“There are assessments that are helpful to our children, like the SAT and the MAP,” says Sharlonda Buckman, CEO of Detroit Parent Network. “But we do not agree with the way the State used the results of the M-STEP from last year to disrupt and punish the schools in our community this year. We are encouraging all parents, not just in Detroit but across Michigan, to opt-out of the M-STEP this spring.”
More than 650,000 students in 15 states across the nation opted out of taking mandatory assessments like the M-STEP in the 2014-15 school year. Opting-out has galvanized parents from diverse communities who believe that their children are being over-tested for the wrong reasons. The average student takes 112 standardized tests between kindergarten and 12th grade, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
The M-STEP takes ten hours per student and up to eight weeks of a school’s calendar to complete. This year, the M-STEP runs from April 10th to May 26th . Last August, the State School Reform Officer announced that she is using the results from the M-STEP to determine which schools would close this year, and last month she followed up with a list of 38 possible schools to close (25 of which are in Detroit). However, the M-STEP has no lasting value, as State Superintendent Brian Whiston is planning to move to a new assessment next school year.
“We don’t need a 10-hour test to tell us that schools serving the highest concentrations of students in poverty will likely score the lowest on any top-to-bottom list,” says Buckman. “We reject the premise that this means they must be failing our kids. Just as we don’t call community colleges failures for not achieving the same results as U of M or MSU, we should not call neighborhood schools “failing” and “low-performing” for not getting the same results as magnet schools, application schools, or other schools in higher-income communities.” Parents who want their children to opt-out can find more information, including a form letter for principals, on their website at www.detroitparentnetwork.org.
Detroit Parent Network Detroit Parent Network is a premier parent organization that transforms parents to make Detroit a better place to raise and educate children. Detroit Parent Network works to improve parent involvement in education by offering workshops, practical tools, written materials and leadership development, all designed to build a constituency of powerful parents for change. Vision: Parents are the driving force ensuring conditions exist for metro Detroit children to thrive. Mission: A network of parents working to build and engage parents and others to ensure every child has a champion.
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